How to solve the language barrier in health and safety

Correct punctuation can save a life…

Let’s eat Grandpa.

Let’s eat, Grandpa.

So if the correct punctuation can save a life, what does it mean when safety-critical information hasn’t been understood due to a worker speaking a different language?


It will take 5 minutes to read this article, maybe the best 5 minutes you will spend reading anything today.


So how do you bridge the language barrier?

Firstly let’s tell you what the UK law requires:

All workers get the same protection under British health and safety law whether they are working legally or not!


How many workers, where English is not the first language are currently working :

  • On your site?
  • In your factory?
  • In your office?

One, fifty or more than hundred?

And how many of them fully understand all risks to their health and safety connected with their job?

For fun, please email your answers – maybe wait until you have read on though?


So is being able to communicate in the worker’s language important?

The number of foreign workers working in Britain has risen by 224,000 to a record 2.15 million in 2016

So how does this affect YOUR company or organisation?


The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) states:

If you are a labour user you should:

  • Carry out a risk assessment of the tasks the worker will be expected to undertake;
  • Ensure the control measures identified in the assessment are effective, are in place and are maintained;
  • Pass relevant information on to your labour provider(s).


So how are businesses managing language difficulties…  today?

A new temporary worker arrives at your premises, let’s call him Dumitru. He’s ready to start work immediately, but first, you need to get the health and safety basics for your business/site understood by him. You probably use the simplest of methods, using images and signs to detail the hazard; you may employ translators or even purchase online language converted training, all taking their cut of your business profits.

No matter your methods for solving the problem, can you guarantee the Non-English Speaking worker understands all the safety signs, fully understands the risk assessment and has a 100% understanding of his/her roles and responsibility?

Put Simply: what you need to do to comply with the LAW?


There is a simple answer you probably weren’t aware existed, a solution without the need to employ costly translation services or delay the work activities while senior management tries miming the site hazards and dangers.


Yes, a solution and a cost-effective one?

Don’t rush to open Google and search ‘non-English workers training videos’, which in all fairness, the employee tasked with managing the foreign workers, probably won’t know what the videos are saying anyway i.e. have you ever for a joke changed your SatNav to Japanese and then was unable to get it back to English?

Anyway, back to helping you with your language problem…

Safety PAL is unique and has you covered:


Let’s take you back to the temporary worker Dumitru, he arrives at your site, you get him logged on Safety PAL, this is his welcome screen

Dashboard in English

Safety PAL Dashboard in English

Dumitru selects his native language of Romanian and Safety PAL instantly shows everything in his native tongue.

Dashboard in Romanian

Safety PAL Dashboard in Romanian


As Dumitru continues round Safety PAL, everything is shown in his language, if he clicks on Tool Box Talks (TABS), they are in Romanian, he clicks on Risk Assessments, guess what “Romanian” Safety Videos, all Q&A, yes you’ve guessed it “Romanian” and not a costly translator or team of miming workers for miles.


Still, need to solve the SatNav scenario: we have that covered too: simply hover over the word or sentence and we show the words in their original language.

Original Text image

Original Text image


What’s next

So let’s recap: All types of businesses struggle with getting non-native workers to fully understand policies, standards and procedures connected with their job, which is a requirement under UK law.

Our solution could not be easier. Safety PAL is A cloud-based HSEQ management system, which efficiently and effectively brings all your business Health, Safety Environmental and Quality systems aligned and is available to every business. size, oh let’s not forget 19 different languages.


So don’t struggle on anymore, book your 30-minute demonstration. The demo will allow us to show you and your team first hand the benefits Safety PAL will bring, not just in managing languages but in many other areas of your business HSEQ requirements.


What others say:

Lydia Brown

Weighbridge Manager

PPX Metal Management Ltd

“Thank you, Safety PAL for all of your support and commitment to making our company a safer place to work.”

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